Dowry issue in India
This article deals with Dowry issue in India.
Note – This article is part of our series on Society for UPSC. For more articles, click here.
What is Dowry?
- Dowry = payment in cash or kind to a bridegroom’s family at marriage
- Dowry Death = When young women are murdered or driven to suicide by continuous harassment and torture by husbands and in-laws in an effort to extort an increased dowry.
- Part of Indian culture => Exclusion of women from workforce especially those belonging to higher caste necessitate this
- Increasing consumerism – people see dowry as avenue to fulfil their impossible dreams.
For some people, paying dowry at their daughter’s marriage is an investment for fetching high dowry through their son’s marriage.
New Trend : Earlier only upper castes indulged in dowry but now lower castes are imitating higher castes in this. This is process of Sanskritisation at play
Effects of Dowry System
- Domestic Violence : women harassed & tortured
- Imbalance in sex ratio: Daughters seen as financial burden => female infanticide & foeticide
- Against Constitutional Spirit of Equality and Justice => violation of Fundamental Rights of women and their parents
- Impact on children‘s personality
- Detrimental for Indian image at global level + Against CEDAW (Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) ratified by India
Provisions to Prohibit Dowry
|Dowry Prohibition Act 1961
- Asking & giving Dowry punishable by 6 months
- Issue – “Dowry” is defined as a gift demanded or given as a condition for marriage. Gifts given without condition are not considered dowry, and are legal.
- Asking or giving of dowry can be punished by an imprisonment of up to six months, or a fine
Section 304 B of IPC
- deals with dowry death related cases.
- imprisonment of 7 years to life term.
Section 498 A of IPC
- Dowry related cases are non bailable and non compoundable.
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA)
- Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
How to end dowry
- Attitudinal Change => Use Peer Pressure
- Amend Section 406 and 498A of IPC as suggested by Malimath Committee.
- Strict enforcement of laws + Dowry related cases should be fast tracked.
- Government should promote “Adarsh Marriage” & ” Mass Marriage”
Side Topic : Issues with provisions of IPC
- IPC Section 406 don’t clearly demarcates boundary between dowry & Streedhan. This has been misused in demanding dowry. (Justice Malimath Committee)
- Section 498 A of IPC is problematic
|Problems with Section 406
- Husband or his family members are presumed to be guilty till they prove their innocence => Misused by Women
- Non-compoundable (cant compromise while case is going) and non-bailable => According to Justice Malimath Committee , it kills any effort of Conciliation
|July 2017 Judgement
||Rajesh Sharma v State of UP
- SC accepted – Section 498A of the IPC is misused
- As safeguard –
- Set up of 3 membered ‘family welfare committees’ in all districts. Every complaint will be looked into by Committee within month & no arrest can be made till that.
- Automatic assumption of guilt has been seen as a problem
- 1 month period too long – make women vulnerable
- NRI husbands can abscond